Ethiopia opens new camp for Somali refugees

Briefing Notes, 2 December 2011

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahečić to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 2 December 2011, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Hundreds of Somali refugees in southern Ethiopia's Dollo Ado region have been relocated from an overcrowded transit centre to a new camp, Bur Amino.

The camp was opened on Wednesday and became the fifth one in the Dollo Ado region. The first group of some 400 refugees has been moved by bus from the transit centre to Bur Amino, 26 kilometres away. On arrival, the visibly relieved refugees underwent health and nutrition screening before being shown to their tents and given hot meals.

The relocation to Bur Amino will decongest the transit centre. For weeks, 7,500 recent arrivals from Somalia had been living in the centre, built to host one-third of that population for a few days only. Rain and poor shelter conditions exacerbated the already low nutritional and health status of the refugees there, especially the children.

UNHCR and Ethiopian authorities are continuing with the gradual relocation, moving 500 refugees every four days as parts of Bur Amino camp are still being developed. Construction has been delayed primarily because the site's rocky soil hampered the building of sanitation facilities.

Refugees at Bur Amino will benefit from food distribution, supplementary feeding for malnourished children, water, health and sanitation facilities.

Since the beginning of the year, Ethiopia has received more than 98,000 Somali refugees fleeing conflict and drought in their homeland, adding to an existing refugee population of some 41,000 in older camps. Another 163,000 Somalis have arrived in Kenya, and over 4,800 in Djibouti. In all, there are now more than 950,000 Somali refugees in the region.

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